Columns / Discourse / October 3, 2012

Healthy ways to avoid moody mornings and create sleepy nights

There’s sleeping… and then there’s not sleeping. If you’re an insomniac or need some way to get pepped up in the mornings, this is the article for you. There are healthy alternatives to the usual coffee that will wake you up. And if you’re an insomniac, there are healthy alternatives to the usual, well, sleeping pills. Whether or not you believe it’ll work, try it out and see for yourself.

Starting with things to get you up and going in the mornings (besides too much coffee), apples help wake up your body more than coffee will. Why? Coffee is effective because of the caffeine, which we all know and love, but apples give the energy boost through natural sugars. Apples are also one of the best foods to aid physical endurance — and the best part is there’s no crash in the middle of the day.

Another great energy booster in the mornings is low-carb fruits. Raspberries, apples, oranges and grapefruit really help to get your energy levels going. Meats, breads and dairy products seem to have the opposite effect, so avoid those.

A random helpful tidbit for staying awake in class is subtle and simple: pull down on your earlobes. It sounds weird and I have no scientific evidence for this, but it seems to work. It’s one of the things you just have to try.

Another way to help stay awake in class is rubbing your tongue against the top front area of your mouth cavity. It really feels weird, but it can help keep you awake by giving your body a quick, irritating nerve jolt.

Now for the insomniacs, there are lots of ways to help you sleep without relying on pills. If you know that you have a hard time sleeping at night, you should avoid eating bacon, cheese, sugar, ham, spicy foods, greasy foods or tomatoes before you go to sleep (just to name a few). These foods release an amino acid called tyramine that releases a substance to stimulate the brain.

Foods that are good for a late-night snack are honey, turkey, egg whites and tuna, which contain an ingredient called tryptophan that helps the body produce melatonin, a hormone that helps you sleep. Milk, usually a warm glass of milk, also carries tryptophan. Milk — without the cookies — and a bedtime story should do the trick. There’s no such thing as being too old for those things, right?

If you don’t like milk or are lactose intolerant, a cup of hot chamomile, catnip, anise or fennel tea should do the trick. Herbal “sleepy time” tea is the best.

Another helpful tip to sleep easier is to not use your computer, TV, iPhone, iPad or generally anything with a back-lit screen before bed. Light suppresses melatonin production, which is why we turn off the light to go to bed anyway.

Even with all the stress of midterms and essays to do, do a few easy stretches or listen to books on tape to get your mind around sleeping. Having a set sleeping schedule will also really benefit your body, but I’m trying to be realistic. Sleep easy!

Emily Park

Tags:  caffeine coffee insomnia melatonin sleep

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Oct 04, 2012

Good article. If you are missing out on sleep, you are missing out on life!

Oct 05, 2012

Great Information. There are so many things that can effect ones sleep. Thanks for the tips

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